They’re Rays of Hope After a Grim Year
New electric vehicles aren’t my first wish for the New Year; I’m really just looking to see folks in person again without having to worry about catching a deadly virus. But I am excited about the new EVs expected to arrive this year. Here’s what’re taking my mind off COVID-19 and making me really look forward to 2021.
This is to the pickup world what the Tesla Model S was to near-luxury sedans during the past decade. It promises to up-the-ante by doing anything a gas or diesel pickup can do, but only using electrons. The Rivian’s got Detroit cred since that’s where it was born, even though they bolted for sunny California this year. The company has a genuine automotive plant in Illinois, much as Tesla did, but even better positioned for logistics. The Rivian R1T is different, but not too different.
Rivian will have plenty of competition—both electric and conventionally-powered trucks—but it’s got the right attitude and the focus—like Tesla—of only making electric pickups (with SUVs following soon). If it can produce its pickups with quality to “surprise and delight” like Tesla did, it’s going to be a fun year. I’ve seen the Rivian prototypes, but haven’t driven them. I expect that to change this year.
GMC Hummer EV
The return of the Hummer brand was probably inevitable as automakers traditionally recycle old names, but I’m not sure anyone short of Arnold Schwarzenegger would have predicted the radical repositioning of the maximum off-road vehicle to become the new electric icon of GM’s EV shift.
I had a chance to climb all over (but not drive) GM’s sole prototype and was impressed with the attention to detail. Like the Rivian, it appears to give up none of the traditional brute strength and on- and off-road capabilities just because it’s electric. It’s very traditional on the outside and very modern inside and underneath the skin. Just another truck I can’t wait to jump into.
I missed my chance to drive the ID.4 recently, but colleague Steve Schaefer eagerly took my place and came away quite impressed. Since the E-Golf remains one of my favorite affordable EVs, I wasn’t surprised. VW’s aiming to impress with its first salvo from a cavalcade of electric models. I expect to put some time behind the wheel of this crossover later this year. It’s one I could imagine ending up in my garage on a longer-term basis; I’m that impressed with everything I’ve seen so far.
Audi Q4 E-Tron
This is almost a no-brainer. Audi brand. Stylish crossover looks. State-of-the-art electric powertrain. The only hurdles for the Audi with the Q4 E-Tron, part of the brand’s expanding EV lineup, may be figuring out how many of this right-sized crossover to bring to the U.S. It will probably be too pricey for some EV enthusiasts, but it could lead the way to a shift of Audi aficionados to electric drive.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Another must-drive for personal and professional reasons is Ford’s Mach-E. Forget the Mustang moniker, that’s just marketing. My colleague John Faulkner has spent some quality time in the Mach-E and he found it ready to jump into the EV fray. I’ve got some reservations about the styling, but from all accounts the package is supremely functional and Ford is ramping production as we sit. It’s an exciting new chapter. It’s clearly another step in the right direction for EVs—a crossover with style and performance.
That’s only five of what promises to be a dozen or more plug-in intros this year. We can expect a few surprises as well, so that should make for an exciting year. While it may be a challenge just keeping up on the new products, I and my colleagues don’t view that as a problem at all. I anticipate a day soon when we can branch off from Clean Fleet Report’s broader mission of fuel efficiency to focus solely on electrification and some of the advanced technologies accompanying its arrival.
I’m feeling better about 2021 already, mask and all.
Story by Michael Coates; photos from Clean Fleet Report archives and the manufacturers.
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